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WSJ--Why Even Sunny Days Can Ground Airplanes  
User currently offlineRJpieces From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (7 years 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 2244 times:

Absolutely fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal today:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119093585795041925-email.html

On Aug. 23, a sunny day in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Delta Air Lines Inc.'s Flight 88 pushed back from the gate on schedule, awaiting clearance for its 12:40 p.m. takeoff to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The weather was cloudless in New York, too. But for the next three and a half hours, the aircraft, with 135 passengers, sat on the ground, taxiing back and forth between the gate and the runway.

Why? Thunderstorms over Rochester, N.Y. -- 260 miles northwest of Kennedy Airport and nowhere near Flight 88's flight plan.

"There was good weather in Fort Lauderdale, good weather in New York, and most importantly, good weather en route," recalls Gary Edwards, Delta's chief dispatcher. "But we were still delayed."

[Edited 2007-09-28 18:19:31]

21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineADXMatt From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 951 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (7 years 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2156 times:

I liked the article alot as it put in simple laymans terms what we go thru everyday.
In many ways the article was pretty accuarate. Our ATC system is outdated, DC airspace 9or lack of space), Military Airspace of the coast.

I think a shorter term solution is a peak period capability based system. Allow the airliners and others with highly accurate RNP capability to fly closer together or in staggered offset parrallels to the airways to increase capacity short term. Those without the higher degree of performance would need to use the lower flight levels.

While this particular DL flight was delayed for over 3 hours there could have been other circumstances as well.
Did DL substitute this flights "slot" for another higher yield flight pushing this one later? (assuming JFK was on a ground delay program or there was an enroute AFP.
If it was an AFP could DL use the offshore WATRS routes to reduce the delay? I don't know if DL's MD88's have rafts or not. If they didn't have rafts then there may not be many options.

Sometimes flying further distances like the WATRS routes or even further out in the deep water routes that avoid DC center sometimes helps alot to reduce the delays. The more traffic you can route off of the problem i.e. J121 the better for everyone.

My 2 cents


User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (7 years 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2092 times:

Quoting ADXMatt (Reply 1):
I liked the article alot as it put in simple laymans terms what we go thru everyday.

I concur, and it's a shame that we don't see more similarly well-written articles on the specific hows/whys things are messed up.

It seems pretty clear that, in the Delta case, there was an AFP afoot, and I only wish the article could have gone into a little more detail as far as what they are, and what they do. Most other articles only mention AFPs as a means to simply route around bad weather, but what they don't tell you is that that's based on a single AFP being active. If there ares -two- AFPs active, and they abutt each other, "simply routing around it" isn't an option, and no flight will get across the AFP's "line of death" without a delay.


User currently offlineEWRCabincrew From United States of America, joined May 2006, 5525 posts, RR: 56
Reply 3, posted (7 years 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2088 times:

Why isn't Bush doing something about the airways (routings, control system, etc.)? If you are going to make public sweeping changes, be prepared to make changes in all departments. Including your own (the FAA).


You can't cure stupid
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21534 posts, RR: 59
Reply 4, posted (7 years 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 2043 times:

This leads me to a major question:

Does the FAA fly around storms more than they used to?

As a younger person, I recall routinely flying through heavy rain and lightning going into the NYC area in the summer (my home area at the time). Bumpy flights, rain on the windows, lightning striking through the clouds all around, general nervousness in the entire cabin. Same goes for flying into/out of DFW, where my grandmother lived. I remember some of the prop plane flights to Tyler being so bad, my parents said "never again" and we drove the 3 hours from DFW.

Nowadays, it seems that if it's bad weather they go around or divert or don't take off at all. And often we are talking a standard rain storm, not anything tropical or violent. I assume something has changed in the procedures.

And I know for a fact that ramps are closed due to storms these days at airports where that was not the policy in the past. TPA adopted the policy a few years back due to deaths of rampers struck by lightning, and other Florida airports followed suit, and that's a good thing.

Considering we aren't seeing weather related crashes anymore, and flights in Asia and Africa that fly in that weather are still crashing, I'm not upset by the new rules if they ARE new rules.

But if procedures have changed over time, why is that never mentioned as part of the cause? Maybe because most articles want to "go negative" and if there is anything in the articles that is positive, such as "the skies are safer now, even if delays are more common" it doesn't fit the story?

Any thoughts on this?



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 1987 times:

For those not familar with what an AFP is, here are the various plans for the NE United States. Re: the Delta flight mentioned in the article, it sounds like AFP01 was in effect, and NY and BOS traffic from the west was headed around the south end of the AFP ("Simply routing around it"), but in so doing, added to the traffic already normally coming from that direction. As we all know from watching 4 lanes of freeway traffic merge down into 2 lanes, delays can occur, and since aircraft on these merging traffic flows can't go "bumper-to-bumper" like stopped auto traffic, the rates get slowed down so that a continuous merging can take place. That means delays getting airborne and into the system, not unlike a metered freeway ramp.

The real pain in the arse occurs when two of these AFPs are active, and the ends of them abutt. If your origin is on one side and your destination is on the other, you're gonna get the AFP delay, since there's no "end of the line" for you to "simply" route around.

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d143/OPNLguy/AFP_FCA1.jpg
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d143/OPNLguy/AFP_FCA2.jpg
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d143/OPNLguy/AFP_FCA3.jpg
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d143/OPNLguy/AFP_FCA4.jpg
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d143/OPNLguy/AFP_FCA5.jpg
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d143/OPNLguy/AFP_FCA6.jpg
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d143/OPNLguy/AFP_FCA8.jpg


User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4335 posts, RR: 28
Reply 6, posted (7 years 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 1958 times:

Quoting RJpieces (Thread starter):
Absolutely fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal today:

I didn't like the line in the article that made a private jet seem as culpable for these problems as the airlines themselves. I'd say flying multiple RJs has had a far more deleterious affect on this issue than the occasional executive jet that comes through.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 4):
Does the FAA fly around storms more than they used to?

As a younger person, I recall routinely flying through heavy rain and lightning going into the NYC area in the summer (my home area at the time). Bumpy flights, rain on the windows, lightning striking through the clouds all around, general nervousness in the entire cabin.

 checkmark 
I've noticed that too. When I was young, it seemed the flights flew through turbulence and weather more often and the flights were generally far more exciting than they are now.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 4):
Considering we aren't seeing weather related crashes anymore,

With the exception of the AF A340 crash of a couple of years ago, I think the last mishap where weather was a contributing factor was the AA crash in LIT almost ten years ago.



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (7 years 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 1954 times:

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 4):
This leads me to a major question:

Does the FAA fly around storms more than they used to?



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 4):
But if procedures have changed over time, why is that never mentioned as part of the cause? Maybe because most articles want to "go negative" and if there is anything in the articles that is positive, such as "the skies are safer now, even if delays are more common" it doesn't fit the story?

Any thoughts on this?

I think it's more a factor of the airlines flying around weather than they used to. ATC will endeavor to keep routes open as long as they can, but once someone refuses to transit an area or severe turbulence is reported, the route is closed until the weather either abates or moves off the route. Another factor is that there's a lot more aircraft out there in the enroute environment (more aircraft in the RVSM airspace at/above FL290), and it doesn't take much for things to start backing up.

As far as weather in the terminal area, onboard windshear detection equipment, and Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) at major airports resulted in better microburst and low-level windshear detection capabilities. When shears and microbursts occur, that slows things down on the landing end, and if no landings can be made for an extended period, the traffic can back-up quickly flights in the enroute environment can get held.

All this happens more easily today, because we better know the stuff is out there, unlike the days of old (when we didn't) and pressed on, sometimes with some bad results.


User currently offlineEWRCabincrew From United States of America, joined May 2006, 5525 posts, RR: 56
Reply 8, posted (7 years 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 1949 times:

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 6):
I think the last mishap where weather was a contributing factor was the AA crash in LIT almost ten years ago.

One-Two-Go's MD-80 that crashed in Phuket recently, comes to mind.



You can't cure stupid
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (7 years 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 1931 times:

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 6):
I didn't like the line in the article that made a private jet seem as culpable for these problems as the airlines themselves. I'd say flying multiple RJs has had a far more deleterious affect on this issue than the occasional executive jet that comes through.

If it was becuase of this: "Airlines also point to the rapid growth of private-jet travel as another clogger of airborne arteries. A corporate jet with only a couple of people on board uses the same routes, effectively taking up as much space on route J121 as does Flight 88, with scores of passengers.", I'd say that's a completely factual statement, and one in the proper context. It matters not if it's an airliner, an RJ, a bizjet, or turboprop--an IFR aircraft is an IFR aircraft, and they all take up a certain amount of airspace. Bizjets operate more frequently than "occasionally".


User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (7 years 4 days ago) and read 1927 times:

Quoting EWRCabincrew (Reply 8):
Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 6):
I think the last mishap where weather was a contributing factor was the AA crash in LIT almost ten years ago.

One-Two-Go's MD-80 that crashed in Phuket recently, comes to mind.

I think he was speaking strictly in reference to accidents within the US, since we're talking about US ATC here...


User currently offlineEWRCabincrew From United States of America, joined May 2006, 5525 posts, RR: 56
Reply 11, posted (7 years 4 days ago) and read 1922 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 10):
I think he was speaking strictly in reference to accidents within the US, since we're talking about US ATC here...

Fair enough.



You can't cure stupid
User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4335 posts, RR: 28
Reply 12, posted (7 years 4 days ago) and read 1846 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 9):
If it was becuase of this: "Airlines also point to the rapid growth of private-jet travel as another clogger of airborne arteries. A corporate jet with only a couple of people on board uses the same routes, effectively taking up as much space on route J121 as does Flight 88, with scores of passengers.", I'd say that's a completely factual statement, and one in the proper context. It matters not if it's an airliner, an RJ, a bizjet, or turboprop--an IFR aircraft is an IFR aircraft, and they all take up a certain amount of airspace. Bizjets operate more frequently than "occasionally".

That was the line I was referring to. And I agree, it is a completely factual statement. One bizjet with 2 people on board will take up as much ATC space as a widebody carrying 300 people. However, what would be anyone's guess as to how many bizjets, percentage wise, pass through the same traffic corrider vs. the airlines' aircraft?

Another way to put this in context would be to ask a theoretical question: Would this ATC problem have disappeared if you eliminated corporate jets from flying that day? (Just a theoretical question intended to illuminate the issue; I'm not by any means suggesting that anyone has said that is the solution to the problem.)

My original comment was that a casual reader of the article might get the impression that corporate jets are a big part of the problem. Bizjets might be a part of the problem, but I would say they are a very small part of the problem.

Quoting EWRCabincrew (Reply 11):
Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 10):
I think he was speaking strictly in reference to accidents within the US, since we're talking about US ATC here...

Fair enough.

I was speaking in reference to accidents in North America in response to Ikramerica's Reply #4, which compared weather related accidents here vs. those in Asia and Africa...

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 4):
Considering we aren't seeing weather related crashes anymore, and flights in Asia and Africa that fly in that weather are still crashing, I'm not upset by the new rules if they ARE new rules.



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21534 posts, RR: 59
Reply 13, posted (7 years 4 days ago) and read 1824 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 7):
All this happens more easily today, because we better know the stuff is out there, unlike the days of old (when we didn't) and pressed on, sometimes with some bad results.

The age old scientific phenomenon of measuring an activity changing the results.

We can better measure and monitor storms and hurricanes, and we are getting more weather diversions and more named tropical storms. But nobody in the mainstream press is acknowledging that part of it.

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 10):
I think he was speaking strictly in reference to accidents within the US, since we're talking about US ATC here...

Exactly. In the last year or so we've seen some horrible crashes in eastern europe, africa, south america and asia, all involving trying to land or takeoff in severe weather.

But we've had severe weather here in the USA too, and fly many of the same planes as the ones that crashed, but all we seem to be experiencing are "horrible delays" due to what some call "over zealous" weather diversions.

Food for thought, is all I'm saying.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4335 posts, RR: 28
Reply 14, posted (7 years 4 days ago) and read 1816 times:

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 13):
In the last year or so we've seen some horrible crashes in eastern europe, africa, south america and asia, all involving trying to land or takeoff in severe weather.

But we've had severe weather here in the USA too, and fly many of the same planes as the ones that crashed,

Don't forget how much more traffic is in our airspace, too, compared to other geographies. When you take that into consideration, one really starts to appreciate how safe air travel is in North America despite some of the more antiquated aspects of it.



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (7 years 4 days ago) and read 1811 times:

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 12):
Another way to put this in context would be to ask a theoretical question: Would this ATC problem have disappeared if you eliminated corporate jets from flying that day? (Just a theoretical question intended to illuminate the issue; I'm not by any means suggesting that anyone has said that is the solution to the problem.)

My original comment was that a casual reader of the article might get the impression that corporate jets are a big part of the problem. Bizjets might be a part of the problem, but I would say they are a very small part of the problem.

Both questions seem to have a purely black/white, either/or element to then. Somewhere, in between "big part" and "very small part" perhap the true number (and effect) exists. How about "a" part?  Wink


User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4335 posts, RR: 28
Reply 16, posted (7 years 4 days ago) and read 1799 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 15):
Both questions seem to have a purely black/white, either/or element to then. Somewhere, in between "big part" and "very small part" perhap the true number (and effect) exists. How about "a" part?

 checkmark 



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 1745 times:

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 13):
Food for thought, is all I'm saying.

I completely agree.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 13):
But nobody in the mainstream press is acknowledging that part of it.

Largely because of being non-experts and regurgitators of facts, they don't understand any of the context of those facts.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 13):
But we've had severe weather here in the USA too, and fly many of the same planes as the ones that crashed, but all we seem to be experiencing are "horrible delays" due to what some call "over zealous" weather diversions.

The "overzealous" being due to those pesky detail-laden reasons that nobody seems to understand or care about.

Isn't it funny that one can hear separate news stories of "Delays are the worst this year than they've ever been" and "The weather this spring and summer is the wettest it's been in years" and some people (in both the media and public) still can't seem to figure out that there just may be a connection there? I mean, they commonly see where 1 + 1 = 3, but here's a case where 1 + 1 actually equals 2, and nobody seems to be able to see it. Bizarre...


User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21534 posts, RR: 59
Reply 18, posted (7 years 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 1737 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 17):
Isn't it funny that one can hear separate news stories of "Delays are the worst this year than they've ever been" and "The weather this spring and summer is the wettest it's been in years" and some people (in both the media and public) still can't seem to figure out that there just may be a connection there? I mean, they commonly see where 1 + 1 = 3, but here's a case where 1 + 1 actually equals 2, and nobody seems to be able to see it. Bizarre...

Not only that, but they can't even understand that LAX, SAN and Hawai'ian airports are some of the most ontime airports because they have little to no weather on a daily basis.

It would be interesting to look at the delay statistics for July/August 1991 in New York. I was a lifeguard that summer, and it stormed nearly every day. I remember this because I got to go home nearly every afternoon since the pool would close, but I still got paid. An 18 year old doesn't forget a summer like that.

I'd be interested to know if that period had just as severe delays, or if things are truly exponentially worse?



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineKochamLOT From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 301 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (7 years 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 1709 times:

Great Article Post. If only newsreporters can tell the public what really goes on, maybe passengers would understand. It ticks me when passengers and newsreporters seem to blame the delays on the pilots themselves.

User currently offlineLgbga From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 187 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (7 years 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 1659 times:

Quoting KochamLOT (Reply 19):
Great Article Post. If only newsreporters can tell the public what really goes on, maybe passengers would understand. It ticks me when passengers and newsreporters seem to blame the delays on the pilots themselves.

The article was written very simple for anyone, even someone not in the aviation field, like me, to understand. As you said I think very few John Q Publics understand how ATC works.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 13):
Exactly. In the last year or so we've seen some horrible crashes in eastern europe, africa, south america and asia, all involving trying to land or takeoff in severe weather.

But we've had severe weather here in the USA too, and fly many of the same planes as the ones that crashed, but all we seem to be experiencing are "horrible delays" due to what some call "over zealous" weather diversions.

Food for thought, is all I'm saying.

I personally would much rather be delayed than dead because someone took a chance in weather that they shouldn't have.


User currently offlineFLYB6JETS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (7 years 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 1621 times:

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 6):
With the exception of the AF A340 crash of a couple of years ago, I think the last mishap where weather was a contributing factor was the AA crash in LIT almost ten years ago.

I know the weather was shit that night, but was weather named as a contributing factor or was it strictly deemed pilot error since the Capt. forgot to arm the spoilers?

On a side note - I actually had one of the survivors of that crash come and speak to my care team class in BOS last month. Absolutely facsinating discussion.


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